What Slackers

Wow, what slackers. I know we said that in the last post, but I think we can say it again. Last time my parents had been in town so we didn’t get too much accomplished. This time we were on vacation, followed by being so busy with work that we found ourselves slaving away until 11pm every night to catch up, followed by Patrick coming down with an unpleasant fever. Now we finally feel like we’re starting to catch up with life…work is getting back to normal, Patrick is feeling fine, and we’re starting to get our yard under control again (you know how those weeds grow when you’re gone for a little while!).

So even though we’ve been doing a little house work here and a little yard work there I’ll post about that later. In the meanwhile I’ll share some more non-house related things, like happenings in the neighborhood.

As spring/summer was coming, the trees were filling in with leaves, and the birds were busy making nests. While checking the mail one morning I was upset to see one bird’s hard work hadn’t paid off. The nest had fallen on our path and the blue eggs were lying smashed next to it. :(

Bird nest

Bird nest

In the meanwhile at a neighborhood association meeting someone asked “What’s going on with all the dead chickens in the road?” – Patrick and I, like much of the remainder of the room, burst out in a puzzled laughter. What on earth were they talking about?? Someone else chimed in and said they’d seen them at various intersections as well.

A couple of days later we drove down one of the nearby streets and saw something laying in the middle of the road. What do you know, it was a dead chicken!! Of course there has been much speculation as to the reasoning of this, the main one being that it’s some sort of voodoo related thing. I believe someone mentioned that it may be a type of initiation ceremony, or someone doing a protective “spell” on the neighborhood or something. If anyone knows about these types of things, please let us know what else it may mean!

Voodoo Chicken

Voodoo Chicken

Otherwise we’ve been very busy with neighborhood related work. One of the recent projects was a neighborhood BBQ…an “excuse” for neighbors to come out, meet new neighbors, chat with acquainted neighbors, and an opportunity to get to know their local police officers and firefighters. The firefighters brought out the truck for kids to play with, the police brought out barricades to block off the street, and generous neighbors donated food, money, and time to make the BBQ happen.

2008 Ontario Park BBQ

Patrick and neighbor Leslie enjoying some food in the shade during the Ontario Park BBQ.

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European Christmas

Since I’m German, and German’s celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, I decided I wanted to do something nice on the 24th to preserve at least a little bit of my German tradition. (And since Patrick’s family takes care of the American tradition side.) Some traditional meals for this day are goose or carp, so we decided to try the goose this year. And to keep things in more of a European Christmas spirit we thought it would be nice to invite some of our Polish neighbors from neighboring West End! As we figured out they have several similar traditions to Germans, such as celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve and eating carp as the main dish.

It was our first time cooking a goose, but it really wasn’t too different from cooking a turkey. Here’s Patrick stuffing the goose with onion and apple slices…

Stuffing the Christmas goose

Stuffing the Christmas goose

Look at that beautiful crispy brown goose!

Christmas Goose

Christmas goose

And here’s us devouring the goose. On the left is our brother-in-law Justin, then neighbor Darek, then his wife Ewelina. Note Ewelina is holding a glass of water! (Just for you Ewelina! :))

Christmas dinner with friends

Christmas dinner with friends

With all the holidays, and this, that and the other going on it feels like on one hand we haven’t been very productive with the house, but on the other hand we did have extra days off were we were able to focus on some projects. I’ll try and post some of those soon, like progress in the bathroom, progress in the bedroom, and a little 4-night getaway between Christmas and New Years where we saw some inspiringly cute cottages. So stay tuned for those updates!

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Frustration, Christmas Decorations, and a Chili Party

Ok, we fully admit it…we’ve been lazy updating our blog! But probably only because there hasn’t really been much to report. We’ve been working hard on the kitchen butler’s pantry…for about 2 months now! I honestly didn’t think it would take this long to work on it. Then we decided to throw a chili party, which made us that much more determined to finish the project before our “deadline.” Our hopes were high and we thought we would get there. We worked hard, even having house time cut into our work time – we’d apply coats of paint stripper, go back to work for 20 minutes, come back to scrape off the paint, apply another coat, go back to work, etc. We were just sailing along for a while there, excited about being so close to finishing our beautiful butler’s pantry. Then we started running into our first dilemma…the hinges. Since the rest of the kitchen is new and therefore has new drawer pulls we decided to replace the old hardware to match the rest of the kitchen. Both of the latches were broken anyway, so they would have been replaced one way or another. So we searched for ball tip hinges that would be the right size for the cut wood. But like everything else these sizes have changed over time and we couldn’t find an exact match. Finally I was thrilled to have found a very close match! House of Antique Hardware had 2.5″ x 2.5″ ball tip hinges in the door section rather than the cabinet section, so we ordered them.

By the time the hinges were getting close to delivery our hope was starting to fade. We realized we would not be able to have the entire pantry ready by the time our chili party would happen. The top glass doors needed to be re-glazed and some of the pieces of glass were broken or missing altogether and the glazing would take 2 weeks alone to dry. So we gave up on having the top glass doors ready and focused our attention on the bottom wood ones. The hinges came the Wednesday before the party. They were a tiny bit larger than the cut area, but we figured it wouldn’t be too hard to chisel away a little bit of wood to make them fit. Easier said than done. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we had not paid attention to the thickness of the hinges, which were about twice as thick! I guess door hinges are thicker than cabinet hinges because they generally have to support more weight? The extra thickness of course translated to the doors not being able to close. So we started the painstaking job of attempting to chisel a deeper cut. After a semi-successful job of getting the cut to the right height we attached the hinges and then worked on attaching the door to the cabinet. This resulted in much cursing and frustration as things weren’t lining up properly and we had to chisel away more wood from the cabinet too. When we finally got the door attached things till felt tight and were making noise. Our frustration on hurdle after hurdle finally made us decide that we just aren’t carpenters and we don’t want to ruin our butler’s pantry because we’re not capable of doing the job. So we’re at a stopping point and want to call a carpenter sometime soon to install the doors correctly.

In the meanwhile the chili cook-off day had arrived. We invited a whole range of people, varying from friends, old classmates, old co-workers, and neighbors. The guests were asked to cook their favorite chili recipe and the most voted on chili would receive a prize. Patrick and I cooked our own 8-hour crock pot vegetarian chili (in case some vegetarians would show up) and also made a nicely spiced (and spiked) cider. In the end we had about 56 people and 10 varieties of chili (other people contributed mulled wine, sour cream, cheese and salads). Patrick and I wanted to take pictures but ended up being too busy running around refilling the cider, etc that we didn’t even pick up a camera. Thankfully our wonderful friend Neil shot some…

The table with all the chili’s lined up. In the foreground was the famous “white lightning” chili made by neighbor (and neighborhood vice president) Scott Smith. Though this chili wasn’t the winner we had to give Scott a big pat on the back for having the chili with the most buzz throughout the night (due to its hot nature).

Westview Chili Party

Friends sampling the chili’s.

Westview Chili Party

Me with the photographer’s lovely new fiancĂ©e.

Westview Chili Party

Neighbors Wendy and Lori chatting with old co-workers/friends Robin and Cathy.

Westview Chili Party

Friends, West End neighbors, and siblings.

Westview Chili Party

The winner of the most voted on chili was first-time chili cooker of a mild chili, Cathy. Her prize was a chili cookbook featuring chili recipes from each of the 50 states. The runner-up was West End neighbor Carl Nes who was rewarded with the “Hot Sauce from Hell.” In the end I think everyone loved the chili cook off and we had several requests to make this an annual event. :)

So the chili party came and went (with an unfinished butler’s pantry *sniff*) and Thanksgiving came and went. On Black Friday I was determined not to step foot into any stores, so Patrick and I decided it was time to put up the Christmas tree. In past years we have felt that Christmas passed and we had never gotten into the Christmas spirit. Perhaps last year had something to do with the fact that we were probably bundled up in big winter coats scraping paint somewhere in the house! Haha. In order to get into the Christmas spirit this year we thought getting things set up early would maybe help. As we unpacked our trendy silver Christmas tree we realized we had never bought any lights for it – a silver Christmas tree with green light strings just wouldn’t work. Additionally all we seemed to have was silver Christmas balls that were left over from our green Christmas tree days. And silver balls on a silver tree just doesn’t seem to work quite so well. So we did what I had been determined not to do – we headed to Target to acquire some more fitting Christmas tree “attire.” To our surprise the store seemed more empty on this Black Friday than on regular shopping days! So we bought white Christmas strings that could disappear on the silver tree, and some colorful glass ornaments – enough to cover the tree for now (I have full intentions on stocking up when everything goes on sale after Christmas! *wink*). So here we have it…the first time we’ll celebrate Christmas in our house! :)

Livingroom with Christmas decoration

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